TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Even after winning the Super Bowl, several Bucs defensive players have said during training camp that they still feel like they aren’t respected– that they’re still underdogs. Nose tackle Vita Vea is one of those players who shares those sentiments.
“I think a lot of guys on our defense should have been noticed a little bit more,” Vea said. “Our linebacker group and a couple of our guys on our d-line – like our outside linebackers – they could have gotten noticed a little bit more, but it doesn’t matter. We’re here to win games and all of the accolades that come with it. It’s just a plus. We’re just here to win.”
Vea suffered a broken ankle in their game against the Bears on October 8, 2020, and missed the remainder of the regular season and the first three playoff games. He pleasantly surprised his teammates and coaching staff, working to get back for that final game, and he did. His return for the Super Bowl after missing 14 games is just one example of his work ethic that his teammates hold in high regard.
“Having his presence there alone, before we even talk about the play-making ability, just gives us a whole new level, whole new identity as a defense,” said Bucs linebacker Devin White. “It especially makes a guy like myself happy when I look up in front of me and I see number 50 down there. God’s blessed him in tremendous ways. He’s a special athlete. He’s got a special talent. At the end of the day, he’s really got to put that talent to work to help this team. The number one thing about Vita is he’s a very unselfish guy. He’s all about helping the team. He showed that by coming back probably before he should have last year. He was feeling maybe 95 percent. You usually want guys to feel 100 percent. But he’s a team-first player and that’s what I love about him. That’s why I love playing with him. Just knowing we could get him to start the season healthy and pray that he stays healthy and do the right things to keep himself healthy. I think he’ll be really fun to watch because we can use him in a lot of ways. We know what he can do but I know the world will be able to see something.”
With a star-studded defense, it’s easy to go down the Buccaneers roster and spotlight nearly every player. So far in camp, even Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians has been impressed. When asked who’s stood out on defense, he gave an encouraging response.
“It’s more like who hasn’t (stood out)?” Arians said. “Everybody in the starting group looks more than ready to play.”